Ever listen to Prairie Home Companion? I actually don’t know if you’d even like it, but I grew up listening to it, my husband listens to it…an enduring image for me is one I only heard about by letter; my Dad and step mother eating stuffed zucchini from the garden on the back deck of their house as bats began patrolling the summer sky…listening to Prairie Home Companion. I think they even saw it live, once.
It’s not so much that it’s such a great show—sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. It’s the consistency, across not only time but space. I remember one time the show came from Tanglewood, in Lenox, Massachusetts. Stockbridge, where I went to boarding school, is right down the road. We walked over there sometimes. At Tanglewood I saw Peter, Paul, and Mary with my dorm one summer, which had to be the best Fourth of July ever, even though there was no music for the actual fireworks. Another year, we saw Arlo Guthrie there—I was unimpressed by his music, but he did tell a story about moose with their antlers going growing the wrong way into their skulls, causing them to wander into towns and look in people’s windows. We didn’t get tickets for BB King, but we sat on the hill on campus and we could hear most of the concert, that’s how close Tanglewood was. And here was Garrison Keilor’s voice, broadcasting out from that spot—at that very moment. The great thing about a live show is the sense of connection with the people making the show, and also with everybody else listening to it.
When I was living in Keene, I always listened to it, because I knew my sweetie listened to it, too. I’d hear the music and the applause and know exactly what he was doing. Now, we listen to it together, usually over Chinese food. My husband has a thing for spring rolls.
I sometimes think that if you ever visit and your visit lasts over a Saturday, you’ll listen to it with us. Maybe your mate will be there, too—if it’s part of your vacation, of course you’d want her with you. So we’ll get twice as many spring rolls, and maybe at the end of the show I’ll get up and dance and pull my mate up to dance with me. And—I don’t know which one of you would be more likely to start it, as I’ve never seen you together and I don’t know her—but one of you would grin and draw the other one up to dance, too. And there would be two couples spinning around the room, being sweet and goofy.
Do you know how to dance? I mean, actual steps and everything? I don’t, though someone explained the waltz to me once. I don’t know if my sweetie knows how, but he with me he just sort of moves. And yet we never step on each other’s toes.
It’s been over thirty years, listening to the familiar voice of that stranger in the dark of radio. One of these days he’ll retire, or even die. He’s had a minor stroke, already. But I hope he stays in it long enough for my nephew to get to know it. That’ll be another generation.
And here I am going on and on and on. How are you?